Making the transition into responsible adulthood is hard, holding on to your childhood nostalgia makes it easier, but being an expectant grown up with the face of an innocent baby filled with honey sweet expressions is probably the worst combination. I’ve just gone twenty three yet I struggle to be seen as anything past fifteen, not only from people around me but from myself when I look at the reflection in the mirror and think “how, just how can I pass through my life stages with no significant change?”.
At least I know I’m not on my own, I can imagine it’s a common problem in this world full of denied maturity and envy towards those teenagers who now tower over your status, skip the awkward development stage and hit ripened full swing (night clubbing and all). So hopefully you can nod along in agreement to my list of 18 stumbling blocks and take comfort in the fact there’s people suffering with the exact same problem…
1. “So what subjects do you study at school?” – a guaranteed line spoken every time you’re in the accompaniment of someone you’re not familiar with. It often leads to a silent, inward scream and a pleasant, outward, reasonable correction in the fact the last time you saw a school was when you were on adult collecting duty.
2. Looking back at old times – whether you’re sat watching old footage and photos with your family and you have to endure the ‘awww, look at you, you look no different’ comments (as well as the harsh realisation when you see it yourself), or when you remember a past event and end up being accused of lying because hey, you’re not old enough to refresh your memory that far back.
3. Getting ID’d for lottery – that’s right, the sheer embarrassment as you reach the front of the oversized supermarket queue to then be told no proof of age, no ticket. It’s hard to keep calm when you get mistaken for an under 16, it’s even harder doing the walk of shame with your head down as you surrender to the reality of not bringing ID because, oh wait, I’m almost in my mid twenties.
4. Getting ID’d for alcohol – okay so that’s to be expected, challenge 25 and all that. What’s not okay is shopping with your friends, or your mum, or wait – even your grandma, and ruining the opportunity for their drink fuelling because your young presence is the barrier. “Sorry I can’t serve you if the person next to you doesn’t verify they’re over 18” (note to self: carry identification EVERYWHERE).
5. The anxiety around handing your ID over – having your ID available to pass over with a smug smile is all well and great but what’s the point if you’re going to have to deal with this bubble of worry that you’ll be booted out by security because they suspect you are fraud?? Doesn’t matter who it is or where it is, the hesitant waiting game as they check over your passport will always be a trigger of discomfort.
6. Being left alone – that’s right, the night is going swimmingly well as you enjoy some quiet drinks back at a friends’ place but it all goes downhill as you decide to hit the bars and you’re the only one who gets turned away because yep you guessed it; forgot ID, bouncer doesn’t think it’s real, still look twelve whilst everyone else looks like a sophisticated lady. Standing like a clown as you wave them off telling them to go on without you wasn’t quite the scenario you had in mind.
7. The astonishment when you reveal your age – it could almost be identical to the shock horror of discovering there’s people out there who actually support Donald Trump (this was the only comparison I could think of but it’s pretty accurate). It almost becomes repeated routine for you to giggle through pain as they state the god damn obvious “I’d have taken you way for about 17” “you look way younger” “you have such a young face” yeah cheers for the reminder, like I didn’t know that already.
8. You begin to experiment – you know there’s a problem when you start basing your life choices upon the desperate need to appear older. I almost have to turn away at the Disney department in Primark just in case they mistake me for some overjoyed child and I seem to have picked up a habit of switching, changing, and basing my wardrobe on classy feminine pieces that scream out I AM A FULLY GROWN WOMAN.
9. No matter how much you dress up, it doesn’t work – you can spend an hour on your face, plant heavy duty high end makeup at every angle, put on your highest heels and swankiest pair of trousers but you’re still going to be that little teddy bear underneath. As much as you’re hoping to hear how hot you look, you will instead be told you look cute. Great, cheers.
10. Wearing no makeup is off guards – as refreshing and accommodating as it is to brave the bare face and give yourself a break from heavy makeup, you also have to face the consequences of representing a somewhat pre-pubescent individual with even further comments to follow. There’s just no winning here is there?
11. You get mistaken for the younger sibling – isn’t it wonderful being the first born, having an advantage over your sibling and using that whenever you want to defeat them in arguments regarding the relevant past? Well it is, unless it’s only you who inherited the baby face genes and there’s absolutely no indication that you’re the eldest, only to your nearest and dearest. To strangers, you’re just another disbelieved gasp and a “god, I thought he/she was older than you”.
12. You pass for someone half your age – this is almost a giving, stating the obvious but really delving into the ins and outs. All those adult duties and liabilities you’re burdened with become even more challenging as you have an extra point to prove. Yes, I am pushing the trolley as the main guardian when I’m out shopping, yes I am the person for the job, yes I do wish you’d stop staring at me like I need wrapping in cotton wool and protecting forever.
13. Purchasing child tickets on public transport – you’d think this was something to praise the lord for, except somehow saving money is limited because it’s the bus and train drivers who have secret powers to detect your real age. Typically, that’s the only occasion you’ll be seen as an adult and won’t be able to hide but hey, I suppose it’s worth a try and when it works it’s kerching! all round.
14. Children are attracted to you – you know what I’m talking about, the longing gazes from the toddlers which can sometimes become intensely awkward as they’re somehow drawn to your petite features; then comes the waving and the smiling and the clinging on once they form this weird bond with you. Maybe that’s why me and children get on so well – I have a ‘friendly’ face they all say. Hmm.
15. You naturally fit in around teenagers – it’s a struggle to hang around in groups of twenty-somethings when you portray a youth who’s waiting for their school dinner. It’s easier to associate yourself with the younger folk, in fact you find yourself fitting in more because you’re around people who meet your standards; the standards being small height, juvenile characteristics and the opportunity to use your skilled, fully fledged brain as a run for the mother hen role.
16. Men problems – ladies with baby faces, how many times have you missed your chance with the dishiest guy in the room because their vision blurs in your area as he heads straight to the lady who, compared to you, is the Jessica Rabbit to your Meg Griffin? Don’t worry though, I’ll just sit and cry in a corner watching the world go by as the masculine opposite sex completely avoid me in fear of charming a high school kid.
17. You can’t be taken seriously – if I had a pound for every time I was dismissed as negligible and my credibility was questioned, then I’d be able to pay for resurfacing of my face to build up an adult image (whatever that may be). Who says I’m not able to help you solve the mystery of your adult problem, or be in charge of a situation? I happen to be an intrigued human, just unfortunately disguised as a child *sigh*.
18. Are your parents home? – the final, and in my opinion the most humiliating issue. If I’m 30 and still living at home (which let’s be real will most probably be extremely likely), I’ll still be able to answer the door as I brace myself to confront the inevitable question “is your mum or dad in? I need to speak to an adult”. Well, no; firstly, really bitch, really? Secondly, I am the adult and thirdly, they definitely don’t want to communicate with you about your washing machine cleaning services anyway. If I only I dared fight my corner…
But hey, every cloud has a silver lining, right? On the brighter side I may come out the other side remaining as intact as Paul Rudd from his Clueless days to the present time. I’ll even be able to act on the “you’ll be glad of your baby face when you’re 50” remarks I’m told ten times a day, it’s only a matter of time until I see if my disappointment revolves into gratitude of the inability to age. Oh, the delight.
Can you relate?